Stuck in the Middle: What Happened to Middle-Wage Jobs in Metro Atlanta?

Blog post by Mike Carnathan
January 2016

Neighborhood Nexus   (Atlanta)
(Inactive) Atlanta Regional Commission   (Atlanta)

The topic of the decline of middle-wage jobs is a hot topic nationally. So, this month’s Snapshot explores this topic. While wages are declining for most workers, those stuck in the middle have seen some of the largest declines since 2010. Here are some of hte highlights of our research:

  • Considering its low cost of living, metro Atlanta has fairly high wages. The average earnings in 2014 were $57,168. Compared to the largest U.S. cities, Atlanta has a lower costs of living index of 95.6. To put this into perspective, New York and San Francisco, two of the most expensive U.S. cities, have indexes of 216.7 and 164, respectively. Houston and Dallas have indexes of 92.2 and 91.9.
  • Despite relatively high earnings in 2014, overall wage growth has stagnated since 2010…
  • That stagnation, or in some cases a decline in wages, is most apparent in middle wage jobs. Conversely, wages in high-wage jobs have seen seen some modest increases since 2010.
  • When compared to a set of peer metro areas, growth in middle-wage occupations in metro Atlanta is lagging significantly. Atlanta has the largest disparity between middle wage occupation and high/ low wage occupations.


Click here to see a couple of charts that help illustrate this phenomenon in metro Atlanta.